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Good news! And exams…

Time May 22nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everybody,

Well this blog comes with plenty of good news! First off, I was just recently accepted to stay another semester in Melbourne. For those of you reading this that have any intention of spending a semester in Australia or anywhere abroad, I will say for one last time… DO IT!! Another piece of the good news is that my parents were here in Melbourne last week. It was a lot of fun to see them, especially for the fact that I now won’t be able to see them until December. They spent a few days doing touristy things and then I got a couple days to show them around my favorite parts of Melbourne. They really seemed to enjoy their time here and it was fun to have them stay with me and meet all of my friends here! One final piece of good news is that Yogi (our Butler rep) took our study abroad group on a winery tour last weekend, and we had a blast! Over the course of the day we visited three different wineries and tasted a great selection of wines, champagnes (officially called “sparkling wines” outside of France), and ciders. The tastings definitely raised my appreciation for good wines, although most of us couldn’t afford the $20-35 bottles that we were trying. Since the wine tasting fell on last Sunday, which happened to be Mother’s Day, a few of us decided to make a little gift for our mothers during the day. We took a good amount of pictures and recorded a few video clips to create this masterpiece. Here is the video, enjoy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzyXbvbQP0w[/youtube]

Although it’s hard to find anything negative after all this good news, we do happen to be coming up on the dreaded exam period. This coming Monday starts week 12, which is the last week of teaching this semester. After that, we have a week called SWOT vac, which stands for study without teaching vacation. This is basically a 9-day period of (ideally) non-stop studying to get prepared for our exam period. Final exams at Melbourne Uni are taken a lot more serious than at many US Universities. For example, 2 of my 4 subjects have a 60% weight on this exam, with the entire rest of the semester worth only 40% of our final mark. This is the case in many subjects and it definitely helps to have this extra week to prepare for these grueling exams. After SWOT vac the three-week long exam period begins. In week 10, exam timetables came out which is when we found out when each exam would be during this period. Two of my subjects have take-home final exams, mostly consisting of long essays or big projects, while my other two have exams with one on the 15th and the other on the 20th of June. These are both towards the end of the period, which will be good for studying purposes but not so good for traveling plans! Since I am now staying for another semester, I will have a one-month break to travel or work before our next semester starts at the end of July. I still don’t have any concrete plans for this break but I will keep you posted on here!

Below are a few pictures from both this blog and the last. There are a few from my trip to Rochester and Bendigo, as well as a few from our rainy days in Cairns! I threw in a few extras from other events too, enjoy!

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Easter Holiday in Rural Vic and Cairns!

Time April 27th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everybody! Sorry for the delay between posts, been pretty busy with plenty of things lately! Since the last post we’ve had a few more weeks of class and about 10 days off for Easter break, which was a very nice change of pace. I’ll start with a little from my Easter holiday for those of you interested in hearing about some travels.

The first day of the break, April 7th, actually fell on my birthday and we celebrated it in a little town called Rochester (same name as the town I grew up in…) which is about a two hour ride north of Melbourne. Me, Cam and Pat all spent the Easter/birthday weekend up in rural Victoria with our friends Tess, Xavier and Eliza from college. It was definitely nice to see a whole different side of the country by getting out of the city and it felt a lot more like home! While we were there we got to play with Xavier’s lambs, ride (and drive) the paddle steamer boats in Echuca, and saw a dragon parade in Bendigo. Not bad for only the first three days of holiday!

After our country Victoria trip, we headed back to college for a few days before hopping on a plane up north to Cairns for the remainder of the break. After seeing other people’s pictures and hearing their stories about the beautiful water and tropical climate of Cairns, we couldn’t have been more excited to lay around in the sun for the next 5 days! However, when we arrived, it was raining. And it kept raining…and raining…and raining. 5 days of holiday. 5 days of rain. What a rip-off! We decided that we had come too far though to let a little (a LOT) rain get in the way of a good time. To take advantage of our rainy conditions the second day there we booked a Daintree rainforest day adventure. This turned out to be a very informative and fun tour! We drove about two hours north of Cairns to cape tribulation while driving on a terribly small two lane road overlooking the beach the whole time. I sat in the front seat and it literally felt like a rollercoaster! The day was filled with a lot of highlights including seeing the spot where Steve Irwin was killed, stopping at the Mossman gorge, doing a crocodile spotting cruise, walking on the beach, trekking through the rainforest, and many more! I would definitely recommend doing a day trip like this if anybody heads up to Cairns any time soon. We spent the next few days exploring the city in the rain before our snorkeling trip on Sunday. Sunday’s Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip was possibly the coolest experience of my life! Although the weather didn’t cooperate with us at all, forcing the boat to rock quite a bit and upset more than a few stomachs (including Cam’s unfortunately), it was still a great experience. Pat and I made 4 trips out of the boat each, at two different reef locations. We saw a sea turtle, stingray, plenty of nemo’s and other cool fish, and even had a 5 foot shark swim underneath us! This was advertised as one of the main draws of Cairns and now I can understand why! This day alone made the trip for me, and I am very glad that we had the chance to experience it.

Since I took so long between posts, I’ll make sure to get another blog up within the next week to talk more about things around college and experiences in Melbourne. I’ll also make sure to post some of our rainy Cairns pictures once I get them loaded! Other than that, getting excited for my parents to come visit, they arrive next Friday and are staying at college for the week! It will be nice to see them and I’ll be sure to keep them busy while they’re here. That’s all for now, expect to hear more very soon though!

 

Cheers,

Dan

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Phillip Island Adventure and Uni Lessons!

Time March 27th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey everybody! I just wrapped up an awesome weekend (and great week of classes..) and there is plenty to blog about! So put on your party pants, grab a cold beverage, and be ready for the time of your life.

First off, and most recently, Yogi from IFSA-Butler took us on a full day trip to Phillip Island yesterday. It was amazing! We met her in the city and headed off for a day filled with train rides, koalas, incredible views, and plenty of penguins! The first activity we had was a ride on the “puffing billy”, which was an old steam train that originally began running in 1900. It was considered “fast transportation” back then but I’m pretty sure it took us a good 30 minutes to go about 5-10 kilometers. After the train ride we got to visit a koala conservatorium where we saw at least 15 koalas hanging out up in the trees! There was even one sitting right on the walkway, which I will try and post a picture of. Along with koalas there were heaps of wallabies wandering around the nature paths. After the koala adventure we headed out to The Nobbies to try and catch a view of some fur seals. Unfortunately they were too far out on the rocks to get a good glimpse but the views were absolutely breath taking! After a quick stop for dinner the time had come that we’d all been waiting for… the Penguin Parade!!! This was exactly as it sounds. People literally buy a ticket and sit in a giant grandstand to wait for the Little Penguins to return to land from a day in the water. I think it is the most entertained I have even been by a few little animals. Unfortunately there are no cameras allowed but pictures wouldn’t even do these little guys justice. It was so funny just to watch them curiously poke out of the water and then take off waddling in groups like a scene from Braveheart. As soon as they passed the grandstand you were encouraged to walk back on the walkways and see them search for their burrows. Like I said, very entertaining!

Besides the Phillip Island adventure, there has been plenty more going on around college and Uni in the past week or two. Our UC girls softball team, which me and Brian helped coach (mainly because we know the rules and like doing motivational speeches), took 3rd place in their tournament and our boy’s cricket team took 2nd in theirs! Exciting times at UC. As far as Uni news goes, I turned in my first assignment last week! I would say that is a pretty big accomplishment for any study abroad/college student. Speaking of assignments/class/uni, this brings me to my “Melbourne Uni lesson of the day”. As I promised in a past blog, I’ll talk a little bit about the class structure and learning styles here. After all, I’m sure they didn’t ask me to write this blog just to prove there are koalas and penguins here. So here we go..

First off, I like the class/learning structure a lot more here. It just makes more sense. When you sign up for a subject here, you pick a lecture (or 2 or 3) and a tutorial. By the way, I’m not a science student and their lives are a whole lot different I hear. The lecture is very similar to a comparable lecture at my home university, but the tutes is where I really like this model over ours. A tute is a smaller group of about 15-20 students from your lecture. Depending on the class, you may get your actual lecturer or another qualified tutor. This small group gives you a chance to actually discuss the lecture material, ask and answer questions about the readings, and participate in group discussions, both to better understand material and make a few friends while you’re there. I really like this because it encourages participation that was definitely lacking in my economics classes of 300-500+ back home. It also gives you a chance to connect with your professors and even get on a first name basis! I also like the teaching style that most of them possess, as it is more teaching “to you” and “with you” rather than just lecturing “at you”. Overall, even though this University is about the same (huge) size as my school back home, I think this teaching and learning style already makes me feel like more than just a number here, compared to the lack of individual attention given back home.

Well that about wraps it up for this blog, fingers cross that the pictures I’m uploading will be included on the bottom of this! We (the Americans) are currently trying to book some holiday plans for the upcoming Easter break and possibly a few weekends in the future; I’ll keep you all posted on that.

Lastly, shout outs time! (By request or necessity)

-J-Woww across the hall, a great neighbor with an even better i-tunes selection!

-Roomie Brian, for helping me write this!

-Mom and Dad for mastering skype!

-And FSU men’s basketball, for disappointing us once again.. =(

 

Cheers,

Dan

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2 weeks of O’s… Orientation, O-Week, Oh My.

Time February 28th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hey blog friends! First off, I’m still alive. That’s a good start. Moving on, the past two weeks were some of the most action-packed and exciting days of my life. It started with a 15-hour flight from LA where we landed in Sydney at about 8 in the morning (skipping all of Sunday in the process). I met a few people on the plane and then most all of us were rounded up like cattle after arriving in Sydney. This is where the adventure really began!

 

We headed directly from the airport to the hostel where we would be staying for all of orientation, and it was amazing! Very new and in a perfect location with a view of the opera house, harbour bridge, and the entire downtown skyline! I’ll get some pictures up here as soon as I can since words really can’t describe the views that we had, especially at sunrise and sunset.

 

The next 3 ½ days were jam packed with fun activities, which also served as a great way to get to know some of the other 40ish kids in our program. The activities ranged from a walking tour of Sydney, to a trip to a wildlife park with kangaroo petting, to dancing with aborigines, to a trip to see a surf competition at Manly Beach, to an amazing dinner cruise in the Sydney harbour! The last night on the cruise was probably my favorite part of all, although playing around with kangaroos and koalas was definitely a close second! One other cool thing we did in Sydney was to adventure off to a pub one night that was having hermit crab races! It was just as it sounds, and was incredibly entertaining! All in all, the Butler staff put together an absolutely amazing 3 days for us and we were very lucky to have such great leaders!

 

After orientation, we were on top of the world. Little did we know, things were about to get even better/more exciting/crazier! Our group of 15 (the other 25 were headed to Uni in Sydney or Wollongong) had a quick flight down to Melbourne and then were split up and dropped off at our separate housing areas. I was placed in University College (which I would recommend to anybody applying to Melbourne Uni or RMIT next year) along with 3 other guys (Brian, Cam-bam, and Pat) and 2 girls (Dena and Michelle). College life here is somewhat like a fraternity/sorority back home and it has made it really easy to make friends and get involved in activities!

 

This brings me to O-week. There is very little that I can actually tell you about O-week, due to extreme confidentiality =) but it’s basically a welcome week for all the new freshers to introduce them to college life, Uni life, and to “initiate” them into UC. I can’t speak for everybody but I think O-week was one of the best weeks of my life! It was jam packed with daily activities and then there were always some good “themed” activities going on at night. It seemed that most everybody was having a great time and it was an awesome way to bond with people and create heaps of memories. Throughout the week your team could earn “fresher points” for a wide variety of things which were tallied up each day and the winning team was awarded the fresher cup on Friday. We also had a fresher king and queen elected (which me and Lisa won!); likely just for being way too keen about everything we did all week. In case any of our leaders or staff ever reads this blog, you were all incredible. Seriously, I’ve never seen 20-some people with as much consistent positive energy and keen-ness as you all. That made the week so much more fun for all of us!

 

The only negative side of O-week is that it had to come to an end. Unfortunately classes started yesterday so we’re finally getting into a somewhat “normal” schedule, as if that term is really even fair to use. I just got my timetable finalized yesterday and it’s about equal to a US schedule, just with a little less in-class time. In my next blog I’ll make sure to comment a little more on the class structure, since I’m sure I’ll know a little more by then.

 

Well, that’s all for now folks! As my buddy Justin told me before I left, it really feels impossible to try and describe in words all the things we are experiencing while abroad but I will continue to try my best on here! Hope everything is well back home, miss you all!

 

 

Cheers,

Dan

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Ready To Go!!

Time February 8th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, here goes nothing! I’ll start off with a little background on me. I’m currently in my 4th year at Florida State University down in Tallahassee (Go Noles!!). I’m studying business management and finance and I will have two semesters left once I’m done with my time in Melbourne. For the first 18 years of my life, I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota. I’m sure you’re wondering how I could have possibly managed to pack up and move to the tundra of Florida after 18 years in sunny Minnesota… Trust me, it was rough!
As far as studying abroad, I was never really that interested while in high school or during my first few years of college. I was definitely one of the kids who would watch the FSU study abroad presentations before class, take a brochure, and then toss it in the trash after that day’s lecture. However, a few recent events dramatically changed that. First, a friend of mine from high school studied in Melbourne around this time last year and absolutely raved about it. After reading his blog and hearing more and more stories, I could understand why! The deciding factor for me was last summer when I took a three week backpacking trip with two good friends across Europe. This was my first time outside of the United States (unless you count Canada? I don’t..) and I had the time of my life. I think that was the first time that it finally clicked for me that there is so much to see in this world! I have always loved to travel, and have been all across the country with my family and friends, but travelling internationally opened up so many new possibilities. While in Europe we visited Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and England, and met (and lived with) people from ALL over the world including Colombia, China, Finland, England, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Australia, and so many more. This brings me to my next point, Australia.
Out of all the people we crossed paths with, the Aussies were some of the coolest and most fun people of all. After hanging out for days, swapping stories (and ciders) for hours, and hearing so much about their country, I knew this was a place I had to see! Instead of listing the next 6 months of steps that I took in preparation for this coming semester, I’ll sum it up with this.. I called IFSA-Butler one day in the summer, told them my situation, told them what I was interested in doing, and they took care of everything. Sound simple? For the most part, it was! Other than the last second deadlines that I tested while waiting for my course approvals from FSU, and all the begging that I had to do with my counselor and business school chairman, everything went very smoothly. Mr. Owen and the rest of the Butler staff were very helpful during this process and this made it very stress-free for me!
So now all that all the background info is over with, here comes the good stuff! I leave in 2 days!!! Well, kind of. I’m flying out of Minneapolis to Santa Barbara, CA on Thursday morning to stay with a friend for the weekend. I’ve run into my fair share of weather delays in my flying career and wasn’t about to let this trip be affected by another one. The Butler group flight leaves on Saturday night, and gets in on Monday morning. So Monday is when the adventure officially begins! If you can’t tell, I’m extremely anxious! The past few weeks have been spent slowly getting things put together and lazing around the house. Actually, today was probably the most exciting day yet; I went out and bought new socks and underwear for the trip! As soon as I finish writing this I’ll be headed back up to my room to continue packing, with the big goal being to finish it tonight. Woo, big day!
Before I write a whole novel here, I’ll wrap it up and end with a few last things..
1)    This is my first blog; bear with me. Although this one was pretty long, I’ll probably shorten them up as I go (and make them more interesting!).
2)    I’m not an English major. I also scraped by with a B in my creative writing class in school. So I apologize if I don’t use many big words or if I go off topic sometimes, haha. I also like exclamation points!
3)    People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks.
4)    Well done if you got the last reference! If not, google it =)
Well I’m off to pack some more and enjoy my last 2 days at home. In my future blogs I’ll explain a little more about some things I am looking forward to, although I really have no expectations and will just take it one day at a time for now! Every day will be filled with new and exciting things and I couldn’t be more ready to get it started. If anybody else reading this is also heading out from LAX on Saturday, see you at the gate! I’ll be the guy with the backpack and clothes on, asking everybody close to my age if they’re with Butler, haha. That’s all for now, hopefully my next entry will be full of good stuff!
Cheers,
Dan

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